Great Lakes Region

Darawakh / Frogalla Wetland Management Plan

The Darawakh Creek/ Frogalla Swamp Wetland is a coastal floodplain wetland located between Tuncurry and Blackhead. Between the 1950s and the 1980s it was extensively cleared and drained for agriculture.

These works exposed the natural acid sulphate soil layers, resulting in severe acid generation and discharge to the Wallamba River.

The problem was comparable to the outputs of a toxic waste site.

With thousands of years of acid production potential, extensive remediation was required to safeguard the quality and productivity of the landscape and river.

We began the remediation process in 2003 and have achieved significant improvements through on-ground works.

Forster Keys Management Plan

The plan provides comprehensive details on what is permitted within the drainage reserve by residents. 

Residents who have jetty structures on Council's drainage reserve are now required to enter into a formal licence agreement with Council. 

Residents who have current structural issues with their revetment walls may now make application to Council to undertake major repairs or replacement walls.

Great Lakes Coastal Catchment Initiative (CCI)

The Coast Catchments Initiative (CCI) was a Federal Government program that aiming for a reduction in land based pollution of coastal environments.

Our project was one of 8 across Australia. The purpose was to identify ways to reduce the impact of sediments, nutrients and faecal coliforms on Wallis, Smiths and Myall Lakes.

As a result of the initiative, we produced a Water Quality Improvement Plan. This is the main plan for water quality improvement in the Great Lakes area. It outlines the actions required to protect and rehabilitate Wallis, Smiths and Myall Lakes.

The Coastal Catchments Initiative was delivered in partnership with the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water and guided by an Advisory Committee of community, industry and agency representatives.

This project was majority funded by the Australian Government through the Natural Heritage Trust.

Karuah River Catchment Management Plan

The plan aims to maintain and improve the health of the Karuah River and its Catchment.

It's a diverse catchment, with the headwaters of the river in the Barrington Tops National Park, whilst the river mouth forms part of the Port Stephens Estuary.

The Plan uses scientific data from the Karuah River ecological health assessment, along with community knowledge to guide future management.

The key elements of the plan are water, landscape, production and community, and resilient ecosystems.

Karuah River Ecological Condition Assessment

The first stage in preparing the catchment management plan for the Karuah River was a benchmark assessment of the health of the river.

The benchmark was used in collaboration with local knowledge to inform the preparation of the Catchment Management Plan.

Lower Myall River Estuary Study (2011)

We looked at estuary health, sediment and hydrodynamics to provide core information on the natural processes at work in the lower Myall River. This allows us to make informed decisions for the future management of the estuary.

Sediment & Hydrodynamic Assessment of the Lower Myall River Estuary and Preparation of Management Recommendations:

Related Documents:

Lower Wallamba River Rivercare Plan

The Rivercare Plan was developed to address erosion issues within the lower Wallamba River.

Mid Wallamba River Rivercare Plan

This Plan has been produced to assist landholders with the conservation and rehabilitation of the Mid Wallamba River, Firefly Creek and lower Khoribakh Creek.

Pindimar and Bundabah Foreshore Erosion Study

Upper Pindimar, Pindimar, Lower Pindimar and Bundabah are located on the northern shoreline of Port Stephens Estuary within the Great Lakes region.

This study investigated foreshore erosion issues along these shorelines. 

Smiths Lake Estuary Coastal Zone Management Plan

We developed this plan with the intent of achieving an integrated, balanced, responsible and ecologically sustainable use of the lake.

The Department of Industry & Investment has more information about lakes like Smiths Lake, which open and close to the sea. They are known as 'ICOLLs'. The information includes policies and guidelines for their management.

Take a look at Management of coastal lakes and lagoons in NSW.

We get a lot of enquiries regarding the "opening" of Smiths Lake to the sea when the Lake's level is high. We will place notification on the news section of this website when we are planning to open Smiths Lake. Opening is generally planned for levels of 2.1m. You are also able to monitor the lake levels yourself via the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory website. (Click on the 'Level 1' parameter and compare this to the 2.1m target level).


The video below provides an overview of how we manage Smiths Lake levels.


During extended dry periods of low rainfall, Smiths Lake can experience low water levels. For more information on this natural phenomenon, and how we and our partners respond, watch this video:

Wallamba River Restoration

The Wallamba River has been subject to progressive restoration works to protect and reinforce the riverbanks from erosion.

This is done through the construction of rock fillets and revetment at high risk sites and those subject to active erosion.

Rock fillets assist mangroves to regenerate along the eroding riverbanks, and once established provide a high level of erosion protection.

To further strengthen the riverbanks, riparian areas are also replanted with native vegetation, weed control is carried out, and stock fencing is erected where possible to restrict cattle grazing.

These works are designed and implemented to reduce sediment runoff and improve water quality in the Wallamba River and downstream Wallis Lake.

Wallis Lake Estuary and Catchment Management Plan

This plan provides a detailed picture of the state of the Wallis Lake Estuary and its Catchment.

The Plan addresses issues regarding the social, cultural, environmental, recreational and commercial values of the lake, its waterways and catchment. 

Wallis Lake Navigation Dredging

Maintenance dredging to enable safe navigation is essential in the Great Lakes. Before any dredging takes place, we have to consider and assess the likely environmental impacts it may have and also how and where the dredge spoil will be placed and managed.

These three reports provide an overview of key sites for future dredging in Wallis Lake, as well as an assessment of the potential impact. As dredged channels will refill with sand and sediment over time, these reports also provide recommendations for when future maintenance dredging should take place.

Wallis Lake Sponges

Recent studies have identified areas of Wallis Lake as having exceptionally high ecological and water quality values.

The lake has been found to be home to some of the most diverse sponge communities in NSW lakes and lagoons, with at least eight species of sponges occurring in the southern basin of Wallis Lake alone.

The unique sponges found in Wallis Lake are particularly important as most are likely to be new to science and yet to be formally named. Many of the sponges depend on seagrass/macrophyte communities for habitat, and as Wallis Lake is home to about 20% of seagrass beds in NSW, scientists believe the ecosystem is worthy of protection.

Very little is known about the Wallis Lake sponges, so it's important that we conduct further research and community education. Council has got funding under the Federal Governments 'Caring for Our Country' program to carry out further research on Wallis Lake sponges, and to provide information to the community about how we can protect them and minimise the threats they face.

The project will complete a formal scientific assessment of the southern basin of Wallis Lake. This will examine the sponge, macrophyte and animal groups found there, as well as completing a full literature review for Wallis Lake. An expert panel of land managers, scientists and key agency members will run the project and look at the options for protecting the unique ecosystems in Wallis Lake.

Relevant project documents:

Wallis Lake Wetlands Strategy

Adopted by Council in 2010, the strategy sets out the vision, guiding principles and actions to protect, manage, and where required, restore wetlands across the Wallis Lake Catchment.

Wetlands are very important systems. They provide habitats for special plants and animals, and contribute to water quality protection by filtering out sediments and other pollutants. As the strategic management of wetlands is so important, the implementation of the Wallis Lake Wetlands Strategy is a crucial Council action.

Through the Karuah River Catchment Management Plan (2015), Council agreed also to manage the wetlands of the Karuah Catchment in the manner described in the Wallis Lake Wetlands Strategy.

Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP)

The Great Lakes Water Quality Improvement Plan outlines the water quality improvement actions required to protect and rehabilitate Wallis, Smiths and Myall Lakes.

Waterway and Catchment Report Card (and Full Technical Reports)

These Report Cards outline the ecological health of our waterways and are intended to read like a school report card, grading our waterways from A to F.  The grades indicate how our waterways compare to other sites across New South Wales.